Vegan Education at Blaine High School

“…I want to become vegan.”

“It was a great presentation and very inspiring.”

“It was an eye opener.”

These quotes are from students at Blaine High School in response to a Bridges of Respect presentation on factory farming and veganism that was given on November 6. Shannon Kimball, who coordinates CAA’s humane education program, Bridges of Respect, had scheduled me to speak to two agriculture classes that had a total of 60 students.

During the presentations, I shared my story of what caused me to change from an avid meat eater to a vegan animal advocate; talked about the emotional lives and intelligence of pigs, cows, chickens, and fish; and exposed the link between animal agriculture and environmental destruction, including climate change.

Students were also invited to watch Mercy For Animal’s documentary Farm to Fridge. This 12-minute video shows the sad reality that animals face in factory farms and slaughterhouses. Because of the video’s graphic nature, students were empowered to take care of themselves and given the option to not watch. Most of them did watch it, and, because of their compassion, many of them were deeply moved and lots of tears were shed. Continue reading

Twin Cities Veg Fest 2015: Truly Amazing!

Our fourth annual Twin Cities Veg Fest happened just a couple days ago, and we’re still feeling the excitement. We hope you were able to join us for this event, which was our biggest one yet with an estimate of more than 2,500 attendees.

Check out the slideshow below to get an idea of what the festival included. It’s just a glimpse of the many exhibitors, vendors, sponsors, speakers, chefs, volunteers, and attendees who made this year’s Twin Cities Veg Fest truly amazing. All of us at Compassionate Action for Animals are grateful to everyone involved. Thank you!

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That Kooky Twin Cities Veg Fest Planning Committee

It’s no secret: The team behind Twin Cities Veg Fest is a kooky bunch. I mean, they have to be kooky to take on the challenge of putting together a mammoth festival that draws thousands and shows them how freaking awesome vegan food can be. But they do it because they love it. And they do it for the animals. So maybe they’re not so kooky as they are extraordinarily compassionate. Here’s a bit more about them and why they love Twin Cities Veg Fest so freaking much:

What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Twin Cities Veg Fest?

  • More space! We can accommodate more people in the exhibitor halls (now we’ll have two!) and we have a ton of room for people to come to our cooking demonstrations!
  • Working with the exhibitors
  • Food, food, and more food. And maybe some food to go with the food. Also, I’m looking forward to seeing people show up and enjoy themselves. And food.
  • Every year I look forward to new and interesting food vendors. Word is getting out that Twin Cities Veg Fest is a great place to showcase delicious vegan food (and sell out!) so I hope our food court grows even more.
  • Introducing very skeptical omnivores to the wonderfulness that is vegan food.  Hearing “Hey, this is good!” is music to my ears.

Can you tell us a little-known fact about another committee member?

  • I think Sal looks like the pop star Robyn.
  • Unny used to have incredibly long hair, super hippie-style.
  • Unny pledged to not read any Harry Potter for ten years, and that kind of makes me want to start reading Harry Potter.
  • Dave loves vegan food but not fruit. Weird.

If you could help rescue any animal, who would it be and why?

  • I’d like a nonhuman animal to rescue humans from ourselves! I think I’ll have a Kneazle rescue us; my friends would appreciate that.
  • Any animal is worth rescuing.
  • Definitely a pig. Pigs are just too darn cute. On the other hand, I like pretty much all animals, so I’m not picky.
  • A chicken! Because I think I could probably care for her or him at home.
  • A horse! Or a cow. Or a lamb. Or a goat. Okay, I want to rescue them all.

Who is on the Twin Cities Veg Fest Planning Committee?

Dave Rolsky - Pretty Furniture (Committee Chair)
Dave Rolsky – Pretty Furniture (Committee Chair)
Brita Bengtson - So Many Friends (Social Media Coordinator)
Brita Bengtson – So Many Friends (Social Media Coordinator)
Chris Homsey - Cooks up Chefs (Cooking Demo Coordinator) with Mika
Chris Homsey – Cooks up Chefs (Cooking Demo Coordinator) with Mika
Unny Nambudiripad - Buck Stops Here (CAA Executive Director)
Unny Nambudiripad – Buck Stops Here (CAA Executive Director)
Kirsten Just Kirsten Just - Extraordinary Organizer (Exhibitor Logistics Coordinator)
Kirsten Just – Extraordinary Organizer (Exhibitor Logistics Coordinator)
Sal Kravik - Hardy Partier (Pre-Party and Twitter Coordinator)
Sal Kravik – Hardy Partier (Pre-Party and Twitter Coordinator)

Not pictured: Annette Gaudreau – Speaks to Speakers (Speaker Coordinator)

Twin Cities Veg Fest will take place on Sunday, November 1, from 10am to 4pm at Coffman Memorial Union. RSVP on the Facebook event page and let us know if you’d like to volunteer for the event.

Eat Like a Million Bucks: Roberto Martin’s New Vegan Cooking

If you want to eat like a vegan superstar but can’t afford takeout, much less your own personal chef, Roberto’s New Vegan Cooking: 125 Easy, Delicious, Real Food Recipes is the book for you. Roberto Martin’s collection of recipes spans the gamut from quick and easy to super fancy and dispels the myth that vegans can’t eat well on a budget.

Rather than relying on convenience foods like mock meat and dairy, Roberto shows that, with the proper technique and seasonings, wholesome, affordable ingredients such as beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, and mushrooms can be turned into culinary masterpieces. His Eggplant Parm can be perfectly battered and fried up to be crisp and tender with surprisingly no fuss. He shares with the world the magic of besan (garbanzo) flour, a lesser-known vegan wonder food. He uses this for his “lobster” quiche, which was hearty and packed with flavor. Martin graces the reader with treats stemming from his Mexican heritage, such as his tofu soyrizo and a showpiece: Albondigas (the Spanish word for “meatballs”) Soup.

Albondigas Soup
Albondigas Soup

Martin does all of this with little to no assistance from pre-packaged, processed foods. He even offers up some of his own recipes for all those little ingredients we love to eat but often hate paying for, like ketchup, sour cream, pickles and other condiments. While some of Martin’s recipes may be a bit advanced for the novice plant-based eater, he eases the reader into trying out new things by beginning the book with a chapter of DIY basics, staples, and starters. His fast, cheap, simple recipes for condiments such as vegan mayo and barbecue sauce (which is great since honey-free versions are increasingly hard to find) make these foods suddenly within reach for novices and those with processed-food phobias.

On top of all that, he provides detailed instructions on how to make the perfect flaky, crisp vegan croissants, which could probably convince just about any veg-inclined individual to pick up a copy of Roberto’s Vegan Cooking post-haste.

EG Nelson is a community funding coordinator by day and a bicycle enthusiast, competitive baker, and advocate for queers and animals at all other times. She is a co-founder of Queer Bike Gang and can be found riding around Minneapolis where she lives with a cute boi and three cats. Learn more at haygurlhaycafe.com. image001

Compassionate Times, August 2015

Opening Hearts, Changing Minds

written by Linda Pope, CAA Volunteer at Twin Cities Pride 2015

My 13 year old son and I were among the many CAA volunteers and staff working the pay-per-view table this June at the Twin Cities Pride Festival. We offered attendees one dollar to watch a short segment of the documentary, Farm to Fridge.

It was a very successful event in that 540 attendees watched the video. One reason we were able to reach so many people was because volunteers had multiple tablets set up for viewing, and they were continuously in use.

In between viewings, we had many heartfelt conversations with viewers and other attendees who were curious or wanted to learn more about the disconnect between what happens on factory farms and industry’s heavily funded efforts to manipulate the public’s understanding of factory farming. Others were eager to share that they were vegetarian or vegan too. Some people simply thanked us for what we were doing.

Continue reading

Vegan Main Dish Competition at the State Fair

The Minnesota State Fair is coming up soon, and they’re hosting their 4th annual Vegan Main Dish Competition. Your favorite original vegan recipe could be the winner. This is a fun way to participate in the fair while sharing how awesome vegan food can be. Register to enter the competition by tomorrow, August 11 at 4:30pm.

The judges are looking for tasty, easy-to-prepare dishes that supply a complete protein. The entries will be on display in the Creative Activities Building, and the winner will receive a ribbon, a check, and vegan cookbook.

The category is listed as lot #1110 on page 39 in the Creative Activities Booklet. Check it out and enter to win!

Christianity and Advocating for Animals

What does the Bible teach about compassion? Why aren’t more Christians vegan or vegetarian? But didn’t Jesus eat fish? And what about the idea that God gave us dominion over the animals, according to the Bible?

These controversial questions are addressed in the most recent episode of Exploring Veg. Our Executive Director Unny Nambudiripad speaks with two Christian animal advocates: Kathy Dunn, an animal activist and blogger, and Ruth Soresnson-Prokosch, a pastor at a Lutheran church. They share how they speak up for animals using the Christian teachings. We hope this podcast will be inspiring not only to those who are Christian, but also to those who want to learn more about how to respond when others use their understanding of their faith as justification for eating animals.

Vegan Food at Twin Cities Pride

The 2015 Twin Cities Pride Festival comes to Loring Park on Saturday, June 27 and Sunday, June 28 from 10:00am to 6:00pm each day. As you take part in the festivities, you might like to know where you can find the vegan food options. Here you go!

All of these food options appear to be vegan or vegan upon request. We recommend that you check with the vendor if you want to be sure that all ingredients are plant-based.

Wide World of Foods

  • Falafel (deep fried patties from ground chickpeas and fava beans served in a pita) $6
  • Lebanese Salad (garlic, oil, mint and lemon tossed in lettuce served in a pita) $5
  • Tabouli Salad (cracked wheat bulgar, parsley, tomatoes, green onion served in a pita) $6
  • All sandwiches are available in a bowl for those who are gluten-free or do not want pita bread.


  • Vegan Cobb Salad Wrap $12

Wholesoul: A Lavender & Sage Eatery

  • Organic Sweet & Red Potato Fries

Que Viet Concessions

  • Bubble Tea (mango, passion fruit, strawberry)
  • Vietnamese iced coffee

Whole Foods Market

  • Bento Boxes (veggie & hummus or fruit & yogurt) $5

El Burrito Mercado

  • Walk A Taco (vegetarian option available) $6
  • Mango (freshly peeled and on a stick) $5
  • Roasted corn $4

Juice So Good – Green Nelly the Juice Truck

  • Cold-pressed juices

As we honor the diversity in our community and consider how we can treat others with kindness, it’s a good time to widen that circle of compassion to include farmed animals. We’ll be doing pay-per-view outreach all weekend, offering festival attendees a dollar to watch a short video about factory farming. You can find our booth between the dog park and the tennis courts. Stop by and say hello!  If you’d like to volunteer to help out, contact Unny Nambudiripad at unny@exploreveg.org.

Happy Pride!

Champions Fueled with Vegan Food and Compassion

I recently interviewed vegan runner Aaron Zellhoefer about his experience competing in the Ragnar Relay Race with an all-vegan team on May 8 and 9, 2015. Their success goes to show how a compassionate, plant-based diet can fuel top-notch athletes.

JL: Congratulations on winning the Ragnar Relay race! Is it true that your team of vegan runners took first place?

AZ: Out of 526 teams, our team, the Strong Hearts Vegan Power (SHVP) A Team came in 4th place. In our coed division, there were 332 teams, and we came in 1st place.

JL: Tell us more about the race. Where is it and what’s the course like?

AZ: Ragnar Relay is an overnight running event for teams of 6 or 12 runners. There are 15 courses spread across the United States, and each of them is around 200 miles long. Our team ran the Cape Cod course, which is incredibly beautiful. We started in Hull, Massachusetts and ended in Provincetown. We ran through very quaint towns that date back to the early 1600’s and still resemble that time period.

JL: How was your team formed?

AZ: A call was put out on Facebook for vegan runners. SHVP has done two previous Ragnar races, but they really wanted to make a mark this time. There was so much interest that we were able to sign up 36 vegan runners and make three teams. Each team had two drivers, so there were a total of 42 of us. We were all vegan. Because we had so many runners, the team captains decided to put together a competitive team. Hence, the SHVP A Team was formed.  We had some really amazing runners. I felt intimidated by the level of strength on the team.   Two of our team members, Scott Spitz and Micah Risk, had been on the cover of Runner’s World Magazine in the months leading up to the race. We also had our strongest runner, Laura Kline. Laura is soft-spoken and kind, the sort of person who does not generally make her presence known. Yet she is a beast on the race course; representing the United States, Laura won the gold for her age bracket in the International Duathalon Competition in Australia. She averaged six-minute miles.

JL: Wow, sounds like an powerful team. Plus, they had you! How do you train for an athletic event like this? What do you eat to help support your stamina and strength?

AZ: I have always trained by trying to do as many miles as possible before a race. I think most runners will agree that miles matter most. Then, there is recovery from those miles. The night before the race, the Boston Vegetarian Society hosted a talk with Matt Ruscigno, a dietitian and nutritionist. Matt talked about the health benefits associated with vegan running. His main point was that there is not one specific food that vegan runners should eat. He said that all you should be doing is eating a variety of healthy vegan foods and that the rest will follow.

JL: When and why did you go vegan?

AZ: I went vegan in December of 1997. I was involved in the punk rock movement, and, despite the yelling and screaming, there were a lot of messages in the songs. It was great to go to punk rock shows and see so much activism. Environmentalists, feminists, wobblies (workers rights activists), and animal rights activists would go to shows and share information about issues of concern. I was already vegetarian and read up on why someone should go vegan. I saw it as a natural continuation of my reasons to be vegetarian. The reasons were spot-on for the environment, human rights, health, and especially animal welfare and animal rights.

JL: How did you get into running?

AZ: I got into running my freshman year of high school. I enjoyed nothing more than getting out on a running trail and leaving all of my worries behind. I enjoyed the natural beauty of my surroundings. It would make me appreciate what I have.

JL: What was the race like for you? How much of it did you run?

AZ: Each runner had three legs to run. I ended up running a fourth leg for a teammate who was not feeling well. I ended up running 16 miles at roughly a 6:30 pace. I have another Ragnar race in Utah coming up. This will be my eighth 200-mile relay race. I think I’ve been able to do these races so well partly because of healthy eating and training.

JL: What was it like winning the race with your team?

AL: The SHVP A Team all wore shirts that read “Vegan for health, the environment, but most importantly, for the animals. VEGAN POWER!” We wanted to get the name out there and we did. We got a lot of chuckles when we showed up. But, after some of the other runners realized how well we were doing, those chuckles turned into conversations. The race was a 189.3 mile race. Our team did it in 21:54:46. That’s a 6:56 pace for almost 200 miles. It was a fantastic time, and we got the word about veganism far and wide.IMG_0472

Good Times at the Annual Banquet

We celebrated 17 years of advocating for farmed animals last Saturday night at our Annual Banquet. For the first time ever, we held the event at the Wellstone Center in St. Paul. Attendees enjoyed a gourmet vegan dinner, drinks, dessert, silent auction, and a presentation. In addition, they had the chance to spend an evening with other members of our compassionate community. Good times!

Thanks to all of our volunteers who helped in various capacities throughout the evening. Special thanks to volunteer Jared Rolsky, our head chef, who created the menu and supervised food preparation. Also, thanks to all of our food donors: John Thompson, Ben Kutscheid, Joan Rolsky, Betsy Born, EG Nelson, Muddy Paws Cheesecake, Peace Coffee, and Fairview Wine & Spirits. And thanks to everyone who donated good and services to be sold in our silent auction. We raised $1,590 with your contributions and received a $1,000 matching contribution for that. We extend our gratitude to The Herbivorous Butcher, who sponsored the event and supplied a magnificent main dish for the dinner.

Lastly, thanks to all who attended the event and support our work with your contributions and participation. We hope you had a wonderful time and look forward to seeing you at more events in the year to come.

Here’s a slideshow of photographs taken by volunteer Kealy Porter at the banquet. Enjoy!



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